BOZEMAN — It was 2002 the last time Montana State men’s basketball had won a Big Sky regular season championship, but after a long 20 years, that all changed Tuesday night.
A 16-point victory over No. 2 Southern Utah improved Montana State to 22-7 on the season – the most wins by a Bobcat team in the Big Sky era.
It’s an accomplishment that only a few have achieved in program history, which head coach Danny Sprinkle made sure his team knew following their loss at Montana.
"I brought the guys on the floor and I showed them that banner right up there, and I told them you have a chance to leave a legacy," Sprinkle explained. "There are only three teams up there right now. you can be number four.”
Winning a Big Sky championship is a feeling Sprinkle first felt as a player, carrying a piece of his team’s legacy court-side Tuesday night.
"This is the net from ‘96," Sprinkled said with a smile as he held up the small token midcourt. "I kept that in my pocket for good luck today.
Now hanging in the rafters, the year 2022 will soon be etched.
"I dreamed of this when I first started coaching 21 years ago and dreamed of doing it here," Sprinkle stated.
"It’s what you dream of as a kid winning a conference championship," senior point guard Xavier Bishop smiled. "It’s just unexplainable seeing the confetti come down, cutting down the net, just celebrating with everybody. I wouldn’t want to do this with anybody else."
But for Sprinkle and his squad, their work isn’t finished.
"At the end of the day, we haven’t done what we’re supposed to do," Sprinkle reiterated. "We did what we’re supposed to do in the regular season. Now we have to go try and win it outright, and then we have to go take care of business in the tournament next week and play our best.”
Montana State can clinch the outright title Thursday night with a win over Sacramento State. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. inside Brick Breeden Fieldhouse.